Vasculae – Cultural Primativism (CD, Monorail Trespassing)


Vasculae shows off his harsh noise work with Cultural Primitivism, a full-length album with three tracks totaling about 40 minutes in length. Each of these three tracks are long and static-ridden like a wall, and they’re dense enough to be one, but Vasculae’s work never really settles into a pattern – the tracks are consistently mobile, and they often switch from one area of sound to another during the middle portion of the cut.

The first track, “Retrograde,” features a roving static and bass tone that rarely settles down. The static is entirely fluctuating, the bass roiling and frothy, although the middle of the track cuts out for a rather interesting sound source involving a fuzzy drone that devolves into airy pepperings of static. The second, “Sidelong and Full Circle,” is the longest on the album at twenty minutes. The MO is fairly similar – lots of heavy bass, shimmery static that doesn’t really stick for long, and also a blown-out judder that carries throughout. That heavy blown-out sound is almost too apparent throughout the track, nearly overpowering the rest of the work – there’s just a touch too much of it, distracting from the rest of the movement within. It opens up considerably towards the end again for a more nuanced line of solitary static and a whirring sound, and it’s nice to see Vasculae experimenting with variations of the form.

“The Dying of the Light” features a thick sludge of static and bass along with a few open moments in the middle of the track; it switches off about the 8 minute mark for a new sound that focuses on a swirl of noise in the midst of the others. Towards the end it begins to take on an airy crackle that pairs well with the exterior variations.

Cultural Primitivism is a solid entry for harsh noise – it’s too active for wall noise, but it often has the mammoth sound of the genre. I’m not a huge fan of the blown-out sound that tends to creep into the tracks because of the similarities in sound and the distraction from the quieter pieces of the track, but this album is varied enough to keep the listener occupied throughout the three longer tracks.

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